Top Speed was invited to a special showing for an up close look at two new Subarus for 2010, the redesigned Legacy sport sedan and Outback wagon. According to the sales sheets more and more new car customers are being handed the keys to a Subaru because they had the fortune of being one of the few automobile manufacturers to turn a profit last year. Cash For Clunkers certainly didn’t hurt either, doubling their sales last month alone. Although the Japanese automaker’s market share in the U.S. may not be that big of a slice of the pie, rising from 2.2% to 2.5% this year, with a few anticipated improvements they expect to keep that momentum going by offering the right car to the right customer. Subaru plans on doing this by offering a range of new vehicles that meet the right: size, equipment and price requirements of the consumer.
Over the course of the afternoon we learned that Fuji Heavy Industries, the automaker’s parent company considers Subaru to be a luxury brand around the world and they are sold at a premium over other Japanese automobiles like Hondas, Toyotas and Nissans in Europe. However the general public doesn’t feel the a same way in this market. In the U.S. Subaru is seen as a niche brand reserved for the rugged duties of snowy northeast winters, but what shoppers fail to realize is that from rainy South Florida summers to the constantly wet Northwest where precipitation is an issue, these are also perfect places for Subaru’s symmetrical all wheel drive to shine.
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We are confident that this snowy misconception will change with the all new 2010 Subaru Legacy and Outback models that add a bit more room into the automaker’s full size sport sedan and go anywhere wagon. These cars were tailor made for the U.S. market, with the biggest change coming in the form of a more spacious back seat due to the design of the new rear suspension. Subaru hopes to keep things simple by offering these two new cars in three straightforward trim levels: Base, Premium and Limited, which includes leather. There are also more cup holders and room for four full sized golf bags in the trunk. Subaru is also appealing to more upscale buyers with features like a one touch driver’s window standard on every model except for the base along with a high class Harmon Kardon audio system and a new DVD based navigation system that will play other forms of media when the car is in park.
The cars have been revised mechanically as well; they both are packed with a few fun features like quicker steering racks, a revised double wishbone rear suspension, better brake booster and a reinforced sub frame. Suabru is also rolling out their new continuously variable transmission with these new models that offers sporty paddle shifters on the steering wheel that let you cycle through 6 preset settings, the unit was built with a sturdy chain drive in order to take tremendous amounts of torque and off road abuse. The vehicle’s chassis were made with 40 % high strength steel, which means that there are less layers of mid grade metal, adding lightness to the new models and makes them drive like a more compact car. The Subaru design team also added a set of framed doors, they make for room to get in and out of the back seats while cutting down on unwanted NVH, but best of all they give the doors a sold clunk sound when you close them not to mention that they add to the Legacy and outback being named top safety picks.
The Legacy will be offered with three different engine options while the Outback loses a turbo. The entry level power plant for the mid size sedan is a naturally aspirated 2.5 Liter horizontally opposed four that makes 170 HP and 170 lb-ft of torque and will get 19 MPG in the city and as much as 27 MPG on the highway with the new 6 speed manual transmission or as much as 23 MPG around town and 31 MPG at highways speeds with Subaru’s new Lineartronic CVT classifying it as a PZEV vehicle.
The Legacy GT is actually the performance car of the group and is powered by a turbocharged version of the 2.5 Liter boxer engine. The Engine has been tweaked internally for better performance and economy while the turbocharged has been relocated away from the #3 cylinder and dropped underneath the engine. Subaru claims that this reduces spool up time and is one of the biggest reasons for the Legacy GT’s 265 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque and the flattest f*ing torque curve we have ever seen, the new setup allows the car to launch at peak torque and continue accelerating with a constant amount of thrust from 2,000 to 5,200 RPM which allows the four door GT to go from 0 to 60 MPH in under 6 seconds while still getting 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway.
The top of the line Legacy and Outback will be the 3.6 R, however in this case the “R” is more likely to stand for relaxed than racing. The 3.6 Liter flat six engine makes 256 HP and 247 lb-ft of torque and gets 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway burning ordinary 87 octane. The 3.6 R is only available with a 5 speed automatic transmission and takes 7.8 seconds to go from 0 to 60 MPH.
The 2010 Subaru Legacy will go on sale starting at $19,995 for the entry level model and goes all the way up to $30,995 for a fully loaded 3.6 R, however Subaru claims that the leather clad 2.5i Limited is their best value. With the Legacy, the Japanese automaker aims to compete directly against sporty models like the Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima as well as luxury models like the VW Passat.
The Subaru Outback’s dimensions have been reworked, adding an extended wheelbase and shorter overhangs to give the sport wagon a much more aggressive appearance with most of the same hardware as the Legacy underneath the sheet metal. Subaru hopes to sell a ton of these sport wagons and feels that the Outback is just the right size, comes with the correct capabilities and is more affordable than the competition; especially the Toyota Venza. The Outback is also being pitted against a slew of high profile go anywhere vehicles like the Volvo XC-70 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. The 2010 Subaru Outback starts at $22,995 for the base model and goes all the way up to up to $33,990 for a fully loaded 3.6 R Outback. From what we have seen these cars are absolutely awesome and so far Subaru has found that they are in short supply.